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Dangerous Disconnect

Do you know anyone who often chooses to detach and disconnect from relationships?  When situations become painful, conflictual or stressful they check out.  Some people are masters at compartmentalizing and stuffing their negative emotions. For some it happens almost reflexively and may be a defense mechanism learned early on in their lives.  Detachment may have been the best and maybe only mechanism they had as children to cope with emotional stress.  Ironically, even in situations when disconnecting is clearly unhealthy or maladaptive, they find themselves reverting back to their default mode.  It can be difficult to change learned behavior that was ingrained early on in life. As children or young adults they may not have had the resources, skills, or maturity to handle conflictual issues, but as adults they can acquire the ability to successfully work through conflict.

Even though conflict is a part of everyday life, some continue to avoid it like the plague.  Maybe their lack of resolution skills or overwhelming fear prevent them from confronting and resolving conflict.  Or they are so focused on the other person's reaction that they shut down and detach from the pain and the person.  Unfortunately, the problem doesn't go away, but instead builds over time and creates inner turmoil.  Remember from past blogs that resentment is anger with a history, so these negative emotions fester and eventually lead to detachment physically and/or emotionally.  Over time detachment can lead to self-destructive behaviors.  How do we prevent this from happening?

We need to get back our voice and share our thoughts and feelings with others. If we struggle in sharing it verbally or directly, we can write it out first so we have a script to refer to or actually give them the note instead of reading it to them. We have to go through the conflict to get through it. Another suggestion is to get a handle on our emotions first before sharing our thoughts and feelings with others. We might try a breathing technique, exercise, prayer, or mindfulness to calm and center us before confronting the conflict. Remember, we disconnect when we are angry, hurt, scared, or sad so addressing these feelings are part of the solution. Lastly, we can develop a game plan to resolve the conflict while staying connected. Sometimes resolution isn't possible and we have to accept that the other person doesn't have the same agenda as us. But when we value the relationship, making an effort to overcome the conflicts is worth it. Remember that talking things out keeps you connected.

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